EPL: Blues mean business

EPL: Blues mean business
Chelsea’s John Terry (top) and Cesar Azpilicueta combining to thwart Burnley’s Ashley Barnes for their opening win which featured a first Premier League goal by new signing Diego Costa (left).


(Scott Arfield 14)


(Diego Costa 17, Andre Schuerrle 21, Branislav Ivanovic 34)

This year, Chelsea are not messing around. There will be no talk of transitional seasons or "little horses".

They mean business and, after their ruthlessly efficient 3-1 victory over newly promoted Burnley yesterday morning (Singapore time), the rest of the Premier League should take note.

This was a nervous opening weekend for the big teams. Manchester United were humiliated at home by Swansea.

Arsenal and Liverpool were given A fright by Crystal Palace and Southampton.

Even Manchester City had to wait until the final moments of their visit to Newcastle before they felt comfortable.

Chelsea had their own issues, going a goal down when Scott Arfield smashed home from the edge of the box and sent the Turf Moor crowd into convulsions of delirium.

But, far from being rattled, the Blues didn't even blink.

While other teams have looked to improve their squad or to build from the future, Jose Mourinho has picked his fruit from the top of the tree.

Diego Costa was the hottest property in Spanish football and he was able to ease any pressure he may have felt by slipping home the equaliser when the ball fell to him in front of goal.

A booking for a perceived dive was hotly disputed by Mourinho after the match, with the Chelsea boss insisting that Costa has been instructed on what English referees like and dislike, but it will not take the shine off a satisfying night's work.

Cesc Fabregas, a veteran of the Premier League with Arsenal and fresh from a spell with Barcelona, is as safe a signing as any club could make and how it showed.

Alongside the industrious, if a little careless Nemanja Matic, the Spaniard dominated the game.

The trademark dinked pass so beloved of Gunners' fans is now in the hands of Chelsea and it was used to great effect for the second goal.

Andre Schuerrle's strike capped off a maelstrom of pinpoint passing and exhilarating running that would have carved open any team and, had it been scored by Barcelona, it would already be classed as one of the greatest goals of the year.

The third goal was less beautiful, a powerful header from Branislav Ivanoic, but no less crucial.

Just 20 minutes after Burnley had taken the lead, Chelsea were 3-1 up and the game was over.

Mourinho carefully shut down the second half. One game down, 37 to go.

Burnley did their best and, in spells, played brave, ambitious football.

One short burst of high-speed passing in the first half brought the partisan crowd to their feet.

But they were crushed in the second half and never looked like troubling Thibaut Courtois as he made his first-team debut for the Blues.

Manager Sean Dyche performed miracles in taking them into the Premier League in the first place.

The fact that his team, assembled at the cost of £5 million ($10.4m), was on the same pitch as Chelsea (approximately £190m), should be considered enough of a win on its own.

If they keep their heads up and continue to take the fight to their opponents, they may yet have a chance of staying up. For Chelsea, hopes are so much higher.

Mourinho did not enjoy playing a supporting role last season. He didn't like being left behind by City, he didn't appreciate the plaudits that went to Liverpool and the fact that Arsene Wenger won a trophy and he did not would have stung.

He has had a year in charge of this team, he has shipped out many of the players he does not rate and he has replaced them with those that he does.

He has even brought back trusted lieutenant Didier Drogba as an example of what players can achieve personally and as part of a team if they follow his instructions.

Mourinho is back, Chelsea are back and the rest of the Premier League should be very afraid.


This article was published on Aug 20 in The New Paper.

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